Being a Claims Assistant: Pros and Cons
Claims assistants, also known as insurance claim clerks, are typically the first person you'll talk to when trying to resolve an insurance issue. By reading below, you can discover some of the pros and cons to being a claims assistant.
|Being a Claims Assistant: Pros|
|As the insurance industry grows, more openings for claims assistants become available*|
|On-the-job training is provided by most insurance companies*|
|You help provide people with peace of mind through resolving insurance problems*|
|A high school diploma is enough to work as a claims assistant with most employers*|
|Being a Claims Assistant: Cons|
|Customer service can be stressful when dealing with upset clients*|
|Fast-as-average growth for the occupation (11% for 2012-2022)*|
|Postsecondary education is preferred for advancement opportunities in the insurance industry*|
|Working at a computer for long periods can cause issues like eyestrain, wrist pain and back problems*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Essential Vocational Information
When an insurance claim is filed, a claims assistant makes sure all the proper procedures and documents have been followed first and foremost. If these documents aren't complete, a claims assistant informs the claimant and rejects the claims until the process is filled out correctly. This often involves your assisting a customer with the paperwork. When a claim is received that has followed all the proper protocols, you'll then review the insurance policy. If the policy covers the claim, you'll calculate the proper amount and submit it for payment.
If something doesn't look right about the claim, you might send it along to a superior. These superiors take further steps to investigate the claim. You may be called upon to contact a claimant to ask them questions about the nature of a claim. Claims assistants also provide customer service to clients with questions. For example, a claims assistant might refer someone to contractors or repair facilities located near the customer.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2014 reported that insurance claims and policy processing clerks made roughly $18 an hour on average (www.bls.gov). This resulted in a yearly average income of about $38,000 for claim assistants. Alaska, the District of Columbia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Colorado were the top five paying states for claim assistants as of May 2014. Finally, the postal service was listed as the top paying industry for claims assistants with an average salary of around $55,000.
What Are the Requirements?
Education and Training
Most employers are looking for claims assistants with at least a GED or a high school diploma. Mathematical and computer classes are beneficial for claims assistants. The bulk of the education and training for claims assistants comes from an employer's training process. The length of this training period can vary from a month up to a year, depending on the employer. You'll learn about the company's procedures by working under a trained professional during your training period. Good interpersonal skills, an ability to tolerate stress and attention to detail are all skills recommended for you to have.
What Are Employers Looking For?
Employers want claims assistants with good interpersonal skills. Claims assistants have to leave customers happy and satisfied with their insurance experience in order to generate continued business. Here is what a few employers were looking for in job postings for claims assistants posted in April 2012.
- In California, a staffing firm calls for claims assistant applicants to have a typing speed of 60+ WPM and experience with injury claims; the job includes bonuses.
- A business in Alabama requires a claims assistant with a bachelor's degree and at least three years of experience in the field.
- A Wisconsin staffing firm looked for a claims assistant with two years of experience in medical claims and outstanding customer-service skills.
Standing Out as a Claims Assistant
By looking into the type of insurance your employer offers, you'll have an opportunity to stand out as a claims assistant. For example, if your employer primarily deals with auto insurance, you can study factors that impact auto insurance. You can look into traffic and accident statistics along with learning about the costs of automobile parts and repair. Other areas you may want to learn more about are construction and housing for home owner's insurance and the healthcare industry for health and life insurance.
As you expand your knowledge base, you'll set yourself apart from other claims assistants by being a well-informed source of information. Although it is possible for you to do this kind of studying on your own, you would benefit more by enrolling in a postsecondary program. This additional education also helps provide a foundation and stepping stone for you to advance to better jobs in the insurance industry.
Alternative Occupational Choices
If you enjoy the customer service aspects of being a claims assistant, you might want to look into being a bill and account collector. In this role, you would contact customers in an attempt to collect payment or create a repayment plan. Some customers are cooperative while others attempt to avoid paying. Difficult clients have to be tracked down by communicating with neighbors, the post office and credit bureaus. If someone misses out on a payment, you'll inform your employer, who can decide whether or not to take legal action. As of May 2011, the BLS reported that bill and account collectors earned roughly $34,000 on average annually.
If you like working in insurance, you could attempt to find a position as a claims adjuster, investigator or examiner. An adjuster takes a look at some damaged property to learn how much an insurance policy needs to pay out. Investigators look into insurance claims that are suspected of fraud. Finally, examiners verify the submitted claims of an adjuster. The average yearly salary for claims adjusters, investigators and examiners was about $61,000 according to the BLS as of May 2011.